Administrator’s note: The following is the result of a combined effort by many FAIR volunteers, all of whom made substantive contributions, and so is posted here under the group authorship “FAIR Staff.” Also, some of the individuals discussed below are either anonymous or pseudonymous; because we do not even know their genders in some cases, all references to these individuals will use masculine pronouns (“he,” “his,” “him) for the sake of brevity.
Critics on a particularly hostile Internet message board have been celebrating over e-mail responses to some YouTube videos of LDS Egyptologist Kerry Muhlestein. In the videos Dr. Muhlestein commented on some matters related to the Book of Abraham. The e-mails are from Egyptologists at UCLA (where Muhlestein earned his PhD). These scholars were solicited for their views by being sent the following e-mail from a critic on the message board:
Dr. Muhlenstein [sic] has recently been in a series of videos where he discusses his recent research on these papyrus fragments. His conclusions about the veracity of [Joseph] Smith’s translation of these papyri, their related facsimiles, and the explicit connection between the ancient biblical figure Abraham, and the ancient Egyptian book of the Dead, are contrary to what I thought the scholarly consensus was.
Unfortunately, the e-mailer set up a straw man from the beginning: The videos are said to be “on these papyrus fragments,” meaning the Joseph Smith Papyri. He then goes on to speak about “[Muhlestein’s] conclusions about the veracity of Smith’s translations of these papyri.” Actually, Muhlestein says the papyri are not the source of the Book of Abraham (see note 13). Much of what Muhlestein talks about in the videos—such as various traditions about Abraham, the so-called Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and so forth—are not really related to the Joseph Smith Papyri at all, or even Egyptology proper. Two videos do focus on the facsimiles, of which only Facsimile 1 could be said to be related to the papyri that we have in our possession.
The e-mailer then asks if the Egyptologists“could help [him] understand how non-LDS Egyptologists view the Joseph Smith papyri, his translation of the accompanying facsimiles, and how valid the claims that Muhlenstein [sic] has been making in his recent videos are.”
The three responses from the solicited Egyptologists are reproduced below. [Read more…] about Reverend Spalding Strikes Again: A Response to Internet Criticism of Kerry Muhlestein’s Book of Abraham Videos